One Nation Labour conference: Liveblog

April 18, 2013 10:52 am

16.50: Cruddas says there’s a real opportunity for Labour to work with the trade unions to build “a more resilient capitalism”

16.44: Kendall says that too often in the past Labour has done things to people not with them.

16.38: Liz Kendall says One Nation is intrinsically about the future, especially in terms of the long term issues surrounding an ageing population in his policy area of social care.

16.31: Duncan Leary from Demos says that the problem with an idea like One Nation is that everything becomes “One Nation”, unless it’s clearly defined what it means.

16.20: Cruddas also says establishing major policies now would be “putting the cart before the horse” – and that the scale of the defeat means the party must aim for a significant change.

16.16: Cruddas says there’s a “quiet revolution” and a “cultural reformation” around the way the party is campaigning – especially in terms of moving towards community organising and away from a pure Voter ID model.

16.10: Apologies for the lack of updates in the last 90 minutes – but I’m back online ready for the final session on “Building One Nation Labour Politics”, which includes Jon Cruddas. Whilst I was offline there was a debate on one Nation Society – one of the contributors to that session, Claire Annesley, has written a piece for us which you can see here.

14.37: Glasman says that the financial bailout was “the greatest transfer of money from poor to rich since the Norman Conquest”.

14.17: An intervention from the back of the hall that’s worthy flagging up – a former Kinnock staff member (I’m afraid I didn’t catch the name) says that One Nation was often inserted into Kinnock speeches but was always removed.

14.05: Glasman says that Gordon Brown was wrong to argue that Labour’s purpose was to save the global banking system. He argues instead that “The purpose of the Labour movement is to give hope to people who don’t have it.”

14.04: That Mark Wickham-Jones piece I mentioned earlier is now up on the site – you can read it here.

13.59: Glasman says that 6 weeks after 1066 98% of the freehold in England was held by 12 Frenchmen, and it has been pretty much uphill ever since.

13.51: Glasman says that “things can only get better” was an inaccurate slogan as that’s not necessarily true. It’s still very popular at Labour Students disco at party conference, but I’m not sure Maurice knows that.

13.50: Glasman says “Labour has to learn to have more conversations with human beings, without interrupting them in the first sentence to tell them they’re wrong.”

13.49: Next up is Maurice Glasman, who says he’s going to talk about the return of Labour organising.

13.44: Wickham-Jones says One Nation was a constant theme for Labour from 1994-1999, and was emphasised in the publication “New Britain”. But this shouldn’t be overstated, there’s shared language, but not a shared platform. They also share a concern with division.

13.39: Wickham-Jones says Ed Miliband’s conference speech can be described as 2010: Difficult 2011: Much improved 2012: orientated to One Nation Labour

13.37: Mark Wickham-Jones is first up in this session, and notes – to the amusement of the audience – that One Nation labour was being mentioned back in 1995 by the party’s then Deputy lead John Prescott. Wickham-Jones has written a piece on the origins of One Nation labour, which we’ll be posting this afternoon.

13.36: And we’re back. The next session is “Blue and Red in One Nation Labour” – featuring Maurice Glasman, which could be revealing…

12.24: It’s lunchtime at the One Nation conference – I’ll be back at 1.30, when Maurice Glasman is speaking…

12.11: Blond says that what people value is “equity not equality” and that people want to feel that they get out of society what they put in. However that assumes, as Labour people on the whole don’t, that the market can perfectly reward people for their efforts or (perhaps more importantly) that the market and society provide everything with the opportunity to contribute.

12.04: “Forgive me if I get a bit philosophical” says Blond. It’s like he’s reading my mind…

12.01: The issue with the points Blond is making is that they are incredibly abstract. That’s par for the course in academic terms, but it’s still quite hard to take any clear policy ideas from it… Essentially, it sounds like he’s suggesting a sort of small c-conservatism that sounds rather like large C conservatism (but not, it must be said, Thatcherism). Even my description sounds abstract, doesn’t it?

11.58:Blond asks if the Left can think of Universalism differently – not that everyone gets the same, but that everyone gets what they need. He suggests that a true One Nation Labour approach would be more personalist, less centralised and more local.

11.56: Red Tory Phillip Blond is up next. He says that One Nation was destroyed by the Left – and the economic liberalism of 1979. He’s arguing that Socialism existed pre-Marx, and that it doesn’t need to be about centralism.

11.45: As well as covering today’s conference, we’re also publishing pieces around the idea of One Nation today - first up is Kate Green, who takes a look at polling, and the need for clarity of purpose from Labour about what we believe.

11.35: Fine says One Nation Labour has so far been about mitigating division, but nation rhetoric, she argues, always involves having to decide who is included within the nation. And of course, who is excluded?

11.25: Sarah Fine from King’s College London is now responding to Kenny. She suggests One Nation Labour should be interested in (and perhaps exists in) where Red meets Blue – where change and conservation intertwined.

11.19: Kenny says Labour’s reluctance to engage with Englishness could be costing it dear. He argues that there are Labour politicians – like Jon Cruddas, John Denham and David Blunkett – who are engaged with the idea of Englishness and its importance, but they are exceptions.

11.15: Mike Kenny’s analysis of Englishness and its importance to Labour policy shouldn’t be understated. As well as being invited to this (Labour policy review organised) conference, Kenny also wrote this for Jon Cruddas’s week of Guest Editing LabourList.

11.12: Mike Kenny from Queen Mary University says that there is section of English society who feel unhappy with both unions of which they are members – the UK and the EU. He also warns that we shouldn’t get too carried away with state-backed one off patriotic events like the Olympics, which are atypical.

11.05: Wood’s speech has finished, so we’re now moving onto the first panel discussion of the day on “Labour, England and One Nation”.

11.00: Wood says “it can’t be right” to have individuals living a hundred yards apart and have no common link between them, as was the case in areas hit by the London riots last year.

10.54: Wood says that government action under the Tories – and Labour – became about supporting those at the bottom of society as a means of rectifying the failure of the Labour market. He says we need to change the nature of markets to “bake in” equality – but that won’t be easy and won’t be acheived in four or five years.

10.50: Wood says that One Nation Labour is about attacking division in society and a supply side revolution from the Left. He also argues that we need a new settlement on how to “pay our way in the world” but rejects Cameron and Osborne’s strategy of a “deregulatory race to the bottom”. He says we need to “explicitly challenge the trickle down approach” and aim for “a different kind of growth”.

10.45: Welcome to our liveblog from the One Nation Labour conference. We’ll be covering all of the speeches and debates throughout the day. Up first is Lord Stewart Wood – Ed Miliband’s consigliere and Shadow Cabinet member.

  • Daniel Speight

    Glasman says that the financial bailout was “the greatest transfer of money from poor to rich since the Norman Conquest”.

    I’m beginning to like Glasman. Don’t worry it probably won’t last, but there is so much more weight to him than the some of our wannabe gurus on LL.

    • AlanGiles

      “Cruddas also says…….that the scale of the defeat means the party must aim for a significant change”.

      I have to say it makes you wonder exactly what Cruddas is doing, and if he even knows himself.

      Whenever I read a Cruddasism I am always reminded of those potty self-pitying diaries David Blunkett published 7 years ago: there was just about one line in it that rang true and that was when he took over from Straw at the H.O., to find a full in-tray “God knows what Jack did all day!” was DBs remark. I feel the same way about Cruddas

      • aracataca

        He’s steering a consultation process with the aim of formulating policy to put into the next manifesto. It’s called taking a range of different opinions into account – you wouldn’t understand. In any event, whatever policy is arrived at you’ll be against it.

    • Brumanuensis

      Hm, the history sounds a bit dodgy to me. Especially the ‘six weeks’ claim.

      • Daniel Speight

        Glasman says that 6 weeks after 1066 98% of the freehold in England was
        held by 12 Frenchmen, and it has been pretty much uphill ever since.

        It does have a nice ring to it though. I guess it was the replacing of Saxon overlords with Norman ones, but the meaning of 6 weeks isn’t clear. 6 weeks after the battle or 6 weeks into 1067? Poor Glasman will think we are picking on him.

        • Brumanuensis

          Given the effort that went into the ‘Harrying of the North’, it sounded a bit odd.

          • Daniel Speight

            I guess there was nothing to stop the Norman aristocracy having a divi-up after the battle even if they weren’t actually in control of the land itself. The number 12 though I’m not sure of. Were there 11 senior knights plus William himself that all the others owed allegiance to, therefore in the feudal system giving this dozen the freehold?

            Still mustn’t get too finicky as Glasman was just using it to make his point which was probably a good one, whatever it was;-)

          • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

            “whatever it was”

            I’d suggest his point was contextualisation.

            If so, that’s valuable. Just take the recent denouement of Reinhart and Rogoff’s ‘errors’ (* & **) – effectively pulling the rug out from beneath the austerity merchants. Of course, the austerity project could have been undertaken for the best of reasons – implemented by well-meaning, public spirited politicians who were guided by the research of equally well-meaning though mistaken economists.

            Then again, as Ha-Joon Chang has suggested***, the austerity project could be an attempt by our leaders to intensify the inequalities that have delivered so much to the corporate elite over the last thirty years.

            Choosing between perspectives becomes easier when context is available.

            * http://www.alternet.org/economy/meet-28-year-old-student-who-exposed-two-harvard-professors-whose-shoddy-research-drove

            ** http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/reinhart-rogoff-continued/

            *** http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/04/austerity-policy-eurozone-crisis

          • David Battley

            Choice is all very well, but sometimes austerity is imposed as a necessity, not a choice: see how Hollande has had to temper both his rhetoric and spending since being presented with the responsibility of running France as what accountants would refer to as “a going concern”…

  • Charlie_Mansell

    Glasman’s comment here is spot on: “Labour has to learn to have more conversations with human beings, without interrupting them in the first sentence to tell them they’re wrong.” This is exactly what helped turnaround places like Barking and Dagenham, where people used to say, ‘I can’t tell you what I really think’ and my answer was always ‘Of course you can’. Local authorities have in the last 5 years developed some good practice here: http://www.download.bham.ac.uk/inlogov/pdfs/communications_research.pdf and here: http://reputation.lga.gov.uk/lga/aio/11478942 which the party can learn from as part of its own engagement culture

  • AlanGiles

    “16.31: Duncan Leary from Demos says that the problem with an idea like One Nation is that everything becomes “One Nation”, unless it’s clearly defined what it means. ”

    Just what I have been saying since last Autumn…….

    • aracataca

      No it isn’t. You’ve been telling Labour to ditch it. Leary is asking for clearer definition. 1N is a cohering political polemic which is designed to counter the coalition politics of division as evidenced most recently by their decision to reduce the top rate of income tax while making the majority of the population worse off through their recent tax changes.

      • AlanGiles

        The reason I say drop it, is because it is an undeliverable pipe dream.
        If it were going to be feasible, the time to have delivered would have been between 1997 and 2005 when Labour had two unassailable landslide election wins. However, they chose not to.

        I don’t think even the most optimistic Labour or Conservative party supporter even imagines there might be a landslide in 2015, and it would be impossible to pull off major revisions without a very good majority.

        I say drop it because you should never promise more than you can reasonably hope to deliver. I warn you, if you make high-flown promises to the electorate about “1N” and there is no sign of it by 2020, the voters will lose faith in you, and you are as likely to be a one-term administration, as much as it seems the coalition is doomed to be.

        • Alexwilliamz

          A pipe dream can still be an aspiration and a guiding principle even if it will never be possible. Otherwise we might as well dispense with the criminal justice system and bring back a system of collective punishment.

          • AlanGiles

            Hi Alex: I just feel that to keep saying “1N” will raise expectations amongst the public that will never be met – at least not for years and years to come (if it is ever a reality).

            My other problem is that everything is labelled “1N” like a marketing exercise in a supermarket.

            If Labour raise people’s expectations, they might find it goes against them at the following election in 2020

          • Alexwilliamz

            Agree that just slipping something into 1-nation narrative is stupid and ignorant. My take on it is to promote the idea that Labour values are in a sense universal ideas, in opposition to Tory divisiveness. For example good Labour relations and less inequality would actually be better for businesses rather than anti-business as the right would have us believe. You can probably think of many other examples. The point is that Labour is for the many but this does not mean it is bad for the few (even if they might not see it!)

          • AlanGiles

            Sadly Alex, one of the major reasons we will never have “1N” is because there are far too many politicians who believe in “do as I say, not as I do”.

            Yesterday I highlighted the case of the Rochdale (Labour) MP Simon Danczuk, who vouchsafed his little opinion that far too many of his constituents are “swinging the lead” and “should be in employment” (Rochdale has quite a high incidence of unemployment), yet this is the “man” who as head of a business which failed and went into administration, left creditors thousands of pounds out of credit.

            If he hadn’t, somewhat controversaially, been Labour PPC for Rochdale he could so easily be an unemployment statistic himself, except of course, he no doubt had friends who would have been able to find him a job.

            Far too many big mouthed hypocrites in Parliament – on all sides – to ever reach this nonsensical Nirvana EM is promising.

  • Daniel Speight

    Cruddas says there’s a real opportunity for Labour to work with the trade unions to build “a more resilient capitalism”

    I wish Cruddas wouldn’t do these one-liners without some explanation. Is Cruddas’s capitalism the same capitalism as Osborne’s? I’m guessing not.

    You see capitalism by itself isn’t very resilient. It’s only with governments attempting to fix it that we can hope to take out the mad swings. It’s this reforming of the capitalist system which is social democracy’s raison d’être. The problem with neo-liberalism is that it was an attempt that could never work to take capitalism back to where it started. We are too far along the evolutionary path to go back there. Their support of neo-liberalism is part of the reason why Gordon Brown’s and Tony Blair’s ‘no more boom and bust’ was always doomed to fail. It was just a question of when.

    Of course the more we reform capitalism the less it looks like the capitalism of earlier centuries. Civilization has got to stage where the ills of society shouldn’t be just accepted as the natural order. Where we are now cannot be ‘as good as it gets’.

    • AlanGiles

      I think the problem with Cruddas is that he seems to spend too much time with his head in his hands, like some 19th century intellectual, dreaming up purple prose which will sound good in his next slim volume.

      I have been voted down and harrassed by you-know-who, but the point is the local elections come in two weeks time (13 days now), but Cruddas appears to have said nothing to give canvassers something concrete. It is as if he is somewhere in the dreaming spires, working on his dissertation.

      All he seems to be offering now is what might be termed the “Byrne principle”, that is say as little as possible, nothing that might offend the press even if it means abstaining on votes of principle.

      I have to say it again, Mr Cruddas might be “clever” but his long-drawn out “review” seems more designed to sweep things under the carpet for as long as possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001116515833 Michael Carey

    ‘An intervention from the back of the hall that’s worthy flagging up – a
    former Kinnock staff member (I’m afraid I didn’t catch the name) says
    that One Nation was often inserted into Kinnock speeches but was always
    removed.’

    IIRC Kinnock the movie has a call for One Nation and the 1997 manifesto included it as a catchphrase too…

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